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Wednesday, 31 December 2008 20:33

The Sherman Medium Tank

Sherman   Sherman

The Sherman could be considered the main British tank from the end of 1942 until the end of the war, the Sherman was first used by the British in North Africa, several hundred of these vehicles arrived in North Africa and the Middle East in 1942 and played a major role in the battles fought at the end of the year. In total the British received around 17,500 Shermans during WWII, more than any single British tank that was produced during the war. Initially the Sherman was well protected against the majority of the German weapons it faced and it also was able to deal with virtually any German armour but as the war progressed the Sherman's armour offered little protection against the larger German weapons and it's gun began the struggle against the thicker German armour.

Due to the number of lend lease Shermans being available British tank production was scaled down significantly in 1943 and 1944 (down for 7,300 and 4,000) but it also allowed the British to concentrate on more useful vehicles than just large numbers.

It's probably unfair to compare the Sherman to Panthers and Tigers as the Sherman is a significantly lighter vehicle than these, a better comparison would be against the Panzer IV which made up the bulk of the German tank force, against this it is well matched. The Sherman's biggest advantages where that it was easy to mass produce and it fired an excellent high explosive shell. By the Summer of 1943 the British wanted as many tanks as possible to be mounting a 17pdr gun, the A.30 (Challenger) seemed like the only British vehicle that would be able to mount a 17pdr within a reasonable amount of time and so it was decided to attempt to mount the gun in the Sherman which had a bigger turret ring that British vehicles.

Getting the 17pdr to fit into the Shermans turret was difficult due to the size of the gun but eventually they were able to by adding a welded box at the back of the turret. Firing trails were completed in December 1943 and the first vehicles were converted to carry 17pdrs in January, these would become known as the Sherman Firefly. By the start of June 342 vehicles had been converted, the conversion rate increased rapidly and peaked in September with 268 being converted in that month. At this stage the Americans had grossly underestimated the loss rate of Shermans (as well as other equipment) and had anticipated the war ending by December and had cut down production so at the end of the year arrivals to the UK were stopped in November/December. The War Office had set much higher rates of loss compared with the Americans and thus still had a full reserve available. But this caused concerns with the War Office as it meant less vehicles being available for conversion to 17pdr and if the war continued until mid 1945 and no more Shermans arrived there may be a shortage of Shermans, luckily British tank production was still running and plans to cut production in 1945 were cancelled. This is why you see an increase in British tank production at the start of 1945. 

The total number of Sherman Firefly tanks was 2,246

"B" vehicles are armed with a 105mm Howitzer and "C" vehicles a 17 Pounder

Name I IB IC II IIA
USA Name M4 M4 M4 M4A1 M4A1
              
Production Date          
Total Production          
           
Crew 5 5 4 5 5
(In turret) 3 3 3 3 3
           
Length 19'-9" 20'-1" 24'-4" 19'-9" 24'-3.5"
Width 8'-7" 8'-7" 8'-7" 8'-7" 8'-7.5"
Height 8'-11.75" 9'-5.5" 8'-11.75" 8'-11.75" 9'-8.5"
           
Weight 30.8 31 32.75 30.8 31.55
Ground pressure          
Ground clearance 17.125" 17.125" 17.125" 17.125" 17.125"
            
           
Engine Wright Petrol Wright Petrol Wright Petrol Wright Petrol Wright Petrol
B.H.P per ton 11.9   11.9 11.1  
Max road speed 22.1   22.1 23.9  
Average road speed 19.25   19.25 20  
Cross Country Speed 12.85   12.85 12.5  
Gear box type Synchromesh Synchromesh Synchromesh Synchromesh Synchromesh
Gears 5 Forward 1 Reverse 5 Forward 1 Reverse 5 Forward 1 Reverse 5 Forward 1 Reverse 5 Forward 1 Reverse
           
           
Fuel consumption (road) – MPG 1.175   1.175 1  
Fuel consumption (cross country) 0.498   0.498 0.52  
Petrol 180 154 180 154 154
Auxiliary capacity          
Radius of action (road) 180   154 154  
Radius of action (cross country) 75   75 80  
Trench Crossing          
Vertical obstacle           
Fording height          
Gradient           
           
Main Armament 75mm M3 105mm How M4 17 Pounder Mk IV 75mm M3 76mm M1A1
Ammunition           
Secondary Armament .3" Browning .3" Browning .3" Browning .3" Browning .3" Browning
Ammunition          
Transverse type Hand & Electric Hand & Electric Hand & Electric Hand & Electric Hand & Electric
Max elevation 25 35 20 25 25
Max depression 10 10 5 10 10
Turret Ring Size 69" 69" 69" 69" 69"
Optics      Pict

No.43 x 3 L Mk I

   
           
Armour          
            
Hull Nose 50.8(Cast) 50.8(Cast) 50.8(Cast) 50.8(Cast) 50.8(Cast)
Hull Front 50.8 63.5 50.8 50.8(Cast) 50.8(Cast)
Hull Sides Upper 38.1 38.1 38.1 38.1 38.1
Hull Sides Lower 38.1 38.1 38.1 38.1 38.1
Hull Rear Lower 38.1 38.1 38.1 38.1 38.1
Hull Rear Upper 38.1 38.1 38.1 38.1 38.1
Hull Roof (Front) 19.05 19.05 19.05    
Engine Deck 12.7 12.7 12.7 12.7 12.7
Hull Floor 12.7 12.7 12.7 12.7 12.7
Hull Floor (Front) 25.4 25.4 25.4 25.4 25.4
           
Turret Mantlet 76.2(Cast) 76.2(Cast) 76.2(Cast) 76.2(Cast) 76.2(Cast)
Turret Front 76.2(Cast) 76.2(Cast) 76.2(Cast) 76.2(Cast)  
Turret Roof 25.4(Cast) 25.4(Cast) 25.4(Cast) 25.4(Cast) 25.4(Cast)
Turret Sides 50.8(Cast) 50.8(Cast) 50.8(Cast) 50.8(Cast) 63.5(Cast)
Turret Rear 50.8(Cast) 50.8(Cast) 50.8(Cast) 50.8(Cast) 63.5(Cast)
           
Rear Box Rear     63.4    
Rear Sides      50.4    
Rear Box Roof/Floor     25.4    
 
Name III IV IVB V VC
USA Name M4A2 M4A3 M4A3 M4A4 M4A4
           
Production Date           
Total Production          
           
Crew 5 5 5 5 4
(In turret) 3 3 3 3 3
           
Length 20'-1" 20'-1" 20'-6.5" 21'-4" 25'-6"
Width 8'-7" 8'-7" 8'-7" 8'-7" 8'-7"
Height 8'-11.93" 8'-11.93" 9'-5.5" 8-11.75"' 8-11.75"'
           
Weight 31.25 31.5 31.25 31.75 34.75
Ground pressure          
Ground clearance 17.125" 17.125" 17.125" 17.94" 17.94"
           
Engine G.M Duel Diesel Ford G.A.A. III Ford G.A.A. III Chrysler Chrysler
B.H.P per ton 12 15.9   14 12.8
Max road speed 30.5 23.1   25.2 22.25
Average road speed 23.2 20.5   22.4 20.5
Cross Country Speed 18 11.9   11.6 10.3
Gear box type Synchromesh Synchromesh Synchromesh Synchromesh Synchromesh
Gears 5 Forward 1 Reverse 5 Forward 1 Reverse 5 Forward 1 Reverse 5 Forward 1 Reverse 5 Forward 1 Reverse
           
           
Fuel consumption (road) – MPG 1.72 1.29   0.9 0.93
Fuel consumption (cross country) 0.91 0.5   0.45 0.44
Petrol 123 144 144 133 133
Auxiliary capacity          
Radius of action (road) 71.5 187   121.5 125
Radius of action (cross country) 135 87   60 59
Trench Crossing            
Vertical obstacle          
Fording height          
Gradient           
           
Main Armament 75mm M3 75mm M3 105mm How M4 75mm M3 17 Pounder Mk IV
Ammunition          
Secondary Armament .3" Browning .3" Browning .3" Browning .3" Browning .3" Browning
Ammunition          
Transverse type Hand & Electric Hand & Electric Hand & Electric Hand & Electric Hand & Electric
Max elevation 25 25 35 25 20
Max depression 10 10 10 10 5
Turret Ring Size 69" 69" 69" 69" 69"
Optics          No.43 x 3 L Mk I
            
Armour          
           
Hull Nose 50.8 50.8 50.8(Cast) 50.8(Cast) 50.8(Cast)
Hull Front 50.8 50.8 63.5 50.8 50.8(Cast)
Hull Sides Upper 38.1 38.1 38.1 38.1 38.1
Hull Sides Lower 38.1 38.1 38.1 38.1 38.1
Hull Rear Lower 38.1 38.1 38.1 38.1 38.1
Hull Rear Upper 38.1 38.1 38.1 38.1 38.1
Hull Roof (Front) 19.05 19.05   19.05 25.4(Cast)
Engine Deck 12.7 12.7 12.7 12.7 12.7
Hull Floor 12.7 12.7 12.7 12.7 12.7
Hull Floor (Front) 25.4 25.4 25.4 25.4 25.4
           
Turret Mantlet 76.2(Cast) 76.2(Cast) 76.2(Cast) 76.2(Cast) 76.2(Cast)
Turret Front 76.2(Cast) 76.2(Cast) 76.2(Cast) 76.2(Cast) 76.2(Cast)
Turret Roof 25.4(Cast) 25.4(Cast) 25.4(Cast) 25.4(Cast) 25.4(Cast)
Turret Sides 50.8(Cast) 50.8(Cast) 50.8(Cast) 50.8(Cast) 50.8(Cast)
Turret Rear 50.8(Cast) 50.8(Cast) 50.8(Cast) 50.8(Cast) 50.8(Cast)
            
Rear Box Rear         63.4
Rear Sides         50.4
Rear Box Roof/Floor         25.4

Sherman Tank Track types

Track Model Type Vehicles No Per Track Weight of Track Track Width
T.56 Steel, cast, bolted on I-IV 79 3820lb 16.56"
T.56 Steel, cast, bolted on V & VC 83 4010lb 16.56"
T.62 Steel, rolled sections I-IV 79 3900lb 16.56"
T.62 Steel, rolled sections V&VC 83 4090lb 16.56"
T.74 Rubber backed I-IV 79 3130lb 16.56"
T.74 Rubber backed V&VC 83 3290lb 16.56"
WE, 210 British Rubber double-I I-IV 79 2400lb 16"
WE, 210 British Rubber double-I V&VC 83 2520lb 16"
T.54.E.1 Steel, Fabricated I-IV 79 3790lb 16.56"
T.54.E.1 Steel, Fabricated V&VC 83 3980lb 16.56"
T.54.E.2 Steel, Fabricated I-IV 79 3750lb 16.56"
T.54.E.2 Steel, Fabricated V&VC 83 3940lb 16.56"
T.48 Rubber I-IV 79 3010lb 16.56"
T.48 Rubber V&VC 83 3160lb 16.56"
T.41 Rubber I-IV 79 2770lb 16"
T.41 Rubber V&VC 83 2490lb 16"
T.51 Rubber I-IV 79 3000lb 16.56"
T.51 Rubber V&VC 83 3150lb 16.56"

Sources - WO 194

Last Updated on Saturday, 12 January 2013 17:54
 

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